St. Boniface Cathedral Basilica: A priceless symbol of religion, heritage and identity

                        Both a parish church and the Mother Church of Western Canada, the St. Boniface Cathedral Basilica is the cornerstone of francophone settlement in western Canada. The St. Boniface Cathedral has a 191-year history of tradition. Over the span of almost two centuries, there have been six successive catholic churches, including five cathedrals, at this very location on the bank of the Red River. The present cathedral was erected within the ruins of the previous one (it had been the largest and the most prestigious of the five) which was consumed by fire in 1968.

While being a place of worship, the cathedral also reflects a peaceful union of Native peoples and Canadians who, together, formed the Métis people of St. Boniface and Manitoba. It is also one of the greatest emblems of the City of Winnipeg, as well as a major architectural and artistic symbol in St. Boniface, Winnipeg, and Manitoba.

St. Boniface Cathedral Basilica holds a unique and cherished place in the heart of Canadians and in particular, Manitobans. It is an iconic building for the St. Boniface community and Winnipeg’s French Quarter, a symbol of the visionary faith of the first francophones to set foot on the Canadian Prairies, a major player in the creation of the City of St. Boniface and the province, and a place where culture and faith have taken root.

Moreover, the cathedral hosts several cultural events each year. The cemetery and the ancient walls of the cathedral are the setting for plays, inspiration for photographers, and attraction for numerous tourists looking for the names of notable people who influenced the history of the Catholics and the francophones in western Canada, such as Bishops Provencher, Taché, Langevin, and of course, Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba.

Restorative Needs

Even the most prominent witnesses of our history could not escape the devastating effects of time. Subsequent to an engineering evaluation of the existing structure major structural deficiencies were identified that need immediate repair. The ancient walls and steps are beginning to crumble, the historical cemetery suffers from flooding every year, some of the stained glass windows created by architect Etienne J. Gaboury are in need of repair, and the roof needs replacement.

Today, it has become extremely important—and urgent—to ensure the sustainable protection of this historical building, as it is the keeper of the people’s memory and the spirit that breathes life into and unites today’s Franco-Manitoban community. It is a major tourist attraction for the City of Winnipeg and link to our past.


The cathedral is also showing significant signs of aging in its interior and it will require a lot of work to preserve it, maintain it, and allow it to continue to serve the parish, the St. Boniface Archdiocese, and the overall community. This renovation project should include modifications to the parish hall and kitchen, sanctuary, altar, baptismal fonts, upgraded lighting, a new sound system, the installation of air conditioning, and the addition of a visitor reception area to accommodate the 100,000 plus tourists who visit on an annual basis.

Pressing needs

It was determined that the total cost of the renewal and renovation project is estimated at 6 million dollars. The cathedral will use the existing endowment fund and will wish to take advantage of matching programs with the archdiocese, and the provincial and federal governments to help fund a portion of the project. We are counting on the general public, corporations, and the faithful to support this project in order to preserve and restore this provincially designated historic building.

Make your pledge today to help us arrive at our goal. Thank you.